A little bit off the sides, please
Yesterday’s headlines: Borough Budget introduced: Residents lash out at council over 14-cent hike. “A proposed 14-cent increase in the municipal tax rate” — which means a 20% increase in munipical taxes — “proved too much to take for several Princeton Borough residents, who lashed out at the Borough Council on Tuesday”. Last year’s $19.4 million budget carried a crushing 72-cent tax hike; this year’s budget for the Borough is $21.8 million. This year’s tax increase on the average residence is $486.
Now, let’s put this in perspective. Imagine you are in your early 60s, a widow (in an ethnic group that might be classified as minority), a retired math teacher who has lived in this town your entire life, and now your children and grandchildren live in the area. You are in good health, and are currently supporting yourself from tutoring school and university students in math, for which you charge $60/hr. The reason for not living off your pension is that both your parents lived into their nineties and your father’s pension ran out — after running out of savings (including selling their house) all they had left was their Social Security benefits, which in this part of the country is not much. Hence, you support yourself from your teaching and are careful with your pension so that when you are older and/or disabled you won’t be a burden to your children. At $60/hr, in order to cover $486 after income tax, you’d need to take on 10 more students. That translates to 1.5 more workdays, and you already work 5 days a week. There’s always taking a reverse mortgage which you want to avoid since it means that eventually you can end up with no equity on your house. Not a lot of choices. So you lash out at the Council.
Just last Wednesday I was saying,
If The Principality were genuinely interested in maintaining diversity they’d be wanting to help the middle classes stay, and to allow the middle classes make a profit on their properties when it’s time to move on.
Meanwhile, page 3 states, Township draft budget pared to bring 4.5-cent tax increase, which is an 8% increase over last year’s rate. “On Monday night” the Township Administrator “told the committee that a tax increase this year, which he said was originally contemplated at about 12 cents, had been trimmed considerably to 4.5 cents, and advised the governing body to forgo further cuts in order to maintain the surplus”. Last year’s Township budget was $27.5 million; this year’s is $30 million.
And next to that page 3 article, we find More delays for library, garage, and the library director “said opening day is “fluid“, and really hinges on when the site work and driveway access to the building can be completed”.
Fluid is a particularly apt word to use for two buildings on the same block, one of which, the parking-building-built-on-the-stream, is built directly on an aquifer. Just this afternoon the local cable station carried an interview with Jim Firestone, where they showed video of the completely flooded foundation for the parking-building-built-on-the-stream. It gives new meaning to floating debt.